Sun Auto

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Capabilities utilized
Agency of Record • Brand Development • Concept Development • Marketing Audit • Digital Marketing Campaigns • Logo Design • Video Production • Reputation Management • Content Creation • Recruiting • Event Promotion and Organization
Capabilities utilized
Brand Strategy / Creative Production / Marketing Deployment / Branding
Client background
What they were looking for:
Sun Auto Group was looking for a rebrand. Not only were they turning 40 and experiencing a bit of a mid-life crisis, but they were evolving their business model from the typical “get-them-in-the-door-and-haggle” dealership to a “no-commission, one-price” dealership.
What we found:
Sun’s success over four decades wasn’t because they were a great car dealership. It was because they were great people. They regularly evolved their operation to serve the customer the way the customer wanted to be served. Sun was one of the first dealerships in Central New York to have a useful website. Similarly, owner Todd Caputo wanted Sun to be first to transition to a one-price model. He wanted the customer experience to be “Simple, Upfront, and Nice,” just like many other retail experiences in the post-Amazon era.

Congruent overhauled Sun’s digital strategy while Sun’s then-CMO, Robin Moore, overhauled their traditional media strategy. As a result, Sun’s advertising cost-per-vehicle-sold dropped 36% in just three months. In less than a year, Sun’s branded search grew 27%.

How we did it
Dealers have become conditioned to the idea that between search ads and data-driven social campaigns, you could make sure every dollar spent was thrown at someone who planned to buy a car in the next 7 days. The biggest challenge was convincing Todd that it was all right if every car sold didn’t have a direct attribution to a piece of advertising.
We completely deviated from Sun’s bottom-of-the-funnel, VIN-specific sales strategy. Focused shifted from a “Here’s what you can buy right now” message to a branded “Why buy from Sun” message.
Messaging and
We utilized an omni-channel approach to ensure no one in Central New York missed the change from the previous Used Car King brand to Sun’s new “Simple, Upfront, Nice” brand. TV spots showed empathy to the consumer about past-dealership frustrations and answered with the way car buying should be. Social campaigns took ownership of the past abrasive branding while inviting users to seamlessly shop inventory via Facebook’s Instant Experiences, accenting the simplicity of Sun’s new operation.
The brand process
Sun’s “Simple, Upfront, Nice” brand took time to develop. Todd was initially hesitant to move strongly toward a brand-first message. We slowly phased in more branded content, eventually forging a distinct and attractive brand.

Our Favorite Campaigns

About Sun

Driving Insight:

Sun Auto has always had progressive leadership, but not a progressive brand.


Effectively communicate how consumer-friendly and forward-thinking Sun is.

Sun has always tried to do the right thing for customers, but its branding was old-fashioned and didn’t create a modern, customer-centric brand feeling. This brand launch campaign owned up to past advertising falling into the typical (read: “sleazy”) automotive industry side of things and positioned Sun’s evolution as what the customer wanted.

40 Across 40

Driving Insight:

Words are free. Actions show your true intent.


Honor people who make an impact on the community while generating earned media opportunities around Sun’s 40th anniversary.

Sun Auto was celebrating 40 years of success, but it was out of character for Todd and the Sun brand to put the spotlight on themselves. Instead, we hosted a gala event and created a months-long media rollout to thank the community that made it all possible.